I began blogging over a decade ago, when my now-teen son Myles was a baby. It was mostly for fun, something that provided me a creative outlet as well as kept my scattered family and friends up to date on what we were doing. I never overshared, but I really enjoyed describing my awe with my infant son’s progress to toddlerdom.
My blog took on different forms over the years as my life took on different shapes: a mommy blog, a grief blog, a Pittsburgh sports fan blog, a pregnancy blog, a homeschooling blog, a travel blog. For the last several years, it has become the home of the “Only Catholic Expat Steelersfan Mommyblogger in Beijing.” Through all those iterations, the constant has been a focus on my kids. Myles and Brigid have always provided me ample material to post.
My blogging caught the attention of someone associated with beijingkids magazine in 2010, and shortly after I began my column Alternate Routes. As an extension of what I was already writing about online, I especially mined my kids’ experiences for material. In the pages of this magazine, I have given the readers a peek into some of my son’s personal milestones in Beijing—going out for soccer (August 2011), buying his first guitar at Rock Mei Mei (August 2012), and dancing on a table at a Beijing Oktoberfest party (October 2015).
Whenever he would find beijingkids in Shunyi or Sanlitun, he would pick up a copy and start flipping through it.
“Did you write in this month’s issue?” he would ask, then adding proudly, “Did you write about me?”
In October of last year, Myles turned thirteen. Suddenly, I was conscious of the absence of funny toddler and preschool moments in my days. Now there was a teenager in my home who might not be comfortable with anyone outside of our family circle reading details he would rather keep private.
It wasn’t that I exploited every moment of his life; I had my self-imposed limits, like no mentions of bodily fluids or private parts. Toddlers in particular say funny things about bodily fluids and private parts. My own kids were no different. However, I kept those to myself out of respect.
Since Myles’ birthday, I was beginning to wonder if maybe he would take issue with my broadcasting anything about his life, even to my relatively limited audience.
I asked him as I was writing this what he thought about his being the subject of my blog posts and the focus of this column specifically. Did he have any reservations, I wanted to know.
He shrugged, “Not really. You can write whatever you want.”
I attempted to press him further on the subject, but in response I received more variations of the same indifference.
I appreciated the faith he had in me, that I would not overstep the bounds. I reviewed some of my past columns and blog posts and realized why he held this trust. If anyone had cause to be embarrassed by anything I had divulged in print or online, it would be me. Usually in my vignettes, if Myles and Brigid played any part, they were cast as the heroes, while I was more often their less-than-capable sidekick.
I suppose my next challenge as a mommy blogger is not material drying up, but keeping the dialogue going with my new teenager to know when he wants privacy.
This article originally appeared on page 47 of beijingkids 2017 February Issue. Download the digital version here.